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Acting Early to Prevent Obesity

CDC Works with Nemours Children’s Health System to keep children healthy and active in the ECE setting.

Most young children spend time in care outside the home, making the Early Care and Education (ECE) setting one of the best places to address childhood obesity. More than 60% of children aged 3–5 years are cared for in ECE programs, which include child care centers, family child care homes, Head Start and prekindergarten programs. ECE programs can directly influence what young children eat and drink, encourage physical activity, and promote healthy habits.

In FY 2012, CDC launched the Early Childcare and Education Obesity Prevention Program. As part of this program, CDC funds Nemours Children’s Health System (Nemours) to work closely with state and local partners, on a voluntary basis, to support proven obesity prevention strategies in the ECE setting. Together, CDC and Nemours work with state public health and ECE leaders to:

  1. Make Statewide Improvements in the state ECE system
  2. Support a Targeted Group of ECE Providers practical training and technical assistance regarding how to make changes within their program to support healthy eating and physical activity using the “National Early Child Care Collaboratives (NECCC)” intervention.

Together, we have reached ECE systems and programs in 10 states –Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, and Virginia. State leaders are now integrating obesity prevention strategies into statewide training and technical assistance resources and quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS), impacting thousands of ECE programs. The NECCC has directly trained providers from over 2,300 ECE programs, serving more than 194,000 children. In looking across four groups of ECE providers, there was a statistically significant increase in the adoption of best practices for healthy eating, physical activity, reduced screen time, and breastfeeding support.

These efforts help prevent childhood obesity and promote readiness to learn in childcare centers, family child
care, Head Start, and pre-Kindergarten programs across the country. Learn more about the program! [PDF-9.65MB]